Monday, July 18, 2011

The High Costs of Obama's Medicare "Reform"

Since I started this blog last year, a lot of people and organizations send me information about candidates, conservative organizations, and current political issues. I can't print everything that gets submitted to me, but I try to share some things that my readers may find informative.

Here's a letter from Rene Rodriguez, M.D., who is a member of a group called the Medicare Rx Access Network of Florida, and very concerned about some of the Medicare reforms that the Obama administration is proposing:
As the President and Founder of the Interamerican College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Editor-in-Chief of the medical journal M├Ędico Interamericano and former Chief of the Orthopedic Section at the VA Medical Center in Miami, I have the opportunity to work with physicians and patients from all over South Florida. Many of my colleagues have expressed concern about possible changes to Medicare Part D that concern me.

Recent proposals by President Obama have suggested imposing price controls on Medicare Part D similar to those in the Medicaid Drug Rebate. Currently, all Medicare beneficiaries have the same access to prescriptions regardless of the state they reside. Under the proposed legislation, individual states would have the power to impose price controls on part D benefits for dual eligibles.

We have seen the effects of these policies in other states and the results have been frightening. Medicaid programs in Texas imposed a three prescription per month limit on beneficiaries. In Mississippi, the limit for brand prescriptions is only two. Other states have created “preferred drug lists” that do not include many life saving options. Turning Medicare into Medicaid is a mistake that will cost lives. Medicare Part D is working well.

A 2004 Harvard study found that after reducing benefits, chronically ill and disabled patients were forced to stop taking preventative medications. This doubled the rate of emergency room visits increasing overall healthcare cost. Restricting access to preventative medicine will result in higher overall healthcare costs as patients are forced to other outlets for care. The cost of these visits will overshadow any perceived cost savings by price controls.

Most hospitals rely on private payers to subsidize the below-cost reimbursement rates of Medicaid. This proposed legislation would base Medicare reimbursement on these below-cost rates. The end result is private insurers will be forced to pass on the additional costs to their customers.

More than 17 percent of Florida's population is 65 or older. One in five residents -- or 3.2 million citizens -- is currently enrolled in Medicare. For Florida, the future of Medicare is critically important. Our hospitals are already under pressure to remain open. Medicare users are struggling to pay for essential treatments. Restricting access to treatment will lead to disastrous healthcare outcomes.

Preserving Medicare Part D is not only a matter of protecting healthcare for our citizens; it is a sound economical investment in a successful program. I encourage all Floridians, physicians and policymakers to consider opposing any changes to Medicare Part D reimbursements. Contact your legislators and voice your support of Medicare Part D.

Rene Rodriguez, M.D.
President and Founder, Interamerican College of Physicians & Surgeons
Member, Medicare Rx Access Network of Florida
Dr. Rodriguez brings up several excellent points. Paying for Medicare benefits is a huge issue here in Florida due to the high percentage of our population who participate in the program, so the need to find savings is understandable. Like any large government program, there are certainly inefficiencies, waste, and fraud. Furthermore, considering the exponential growth of our national debt, I personally believe we cannot afford to have any "sacred cows" and must examine Medicare in its entirety for potential budget buts.

However, the draconian cuts to preventative care that the President is proposing would, without a doubt, actually increase overall costs by leading to more severe medical problems, chronic conditions, and an increase in the number of people seeking treatment in emergency rooms (one of the most expensive and least efficient ways of providing medical care). Instituting measures to monitor and reduce fraud is a legitimate way to save money; asking patients to chose between heart medication and cancer medication is not.

President Obama needs to realize that a cut isn't really a "cut" if it leads to higher costs elsewhere. It's also extremely hypocritical for Obama to try and scare senior citizens by threatening that their Social Security checks may be cut off if the debt ceiling negotiations fail, while simultaneously proposing to eviscerate their Medicare benefits.

To contact your member of Congress, click here.
To contact your Senator, click here.

For information about the Medicare Rx Access Network of Florida, send an email to medicareRxFL@gmail.com.



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3 comments:

  1. interesting info. I'm not seeing this mentioned anywhere in the media that Obama wants to cut prescription benefits like this. Guess I should know better than to expect them to cover the important stuff when they can talk about where Casey Anthony is hiding instead!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Obama is a hypocrite.

    ReplyDelete

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